Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Riah"

*All photos are owned by Arrows and Olives blog and may not be copied or printed without permission.



Are you sad, Riah?



Want your binky?


Getting warmer....



Will a kiss make you happy?




Let's try a bottle. 



Waaaaaaaaahhhhhh!



Ah, finally. A professional.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Goodbye, And Happy Birthday

*All photos are owned by Arrows and Olives blog and may not be copied or printed without permission.



I'm having a bit of a freak out. 

Not lying, It's just shy of paper-bag-breathing.
You see, our oldest turns 13 today. "Ok," I thought, "No worries. It's totally awesome."
Wasn't phased a bit.

UNTIL

I realized that from this point on, I will have at least one teen-aged child every single day for the next 19 years. (Or more!) The days of being a young family are quickly fading away.

How can this happen?
We are only 33 years old! Are we mature enough yet to parent teenagers?

Thank God we still have oodles of little ones running around to remind me of how precious the "small" years are.

Some days I find myself deeply missing the humble beginnings of those "small years." We had a tiny, musty, dirty apartment (formerly occupied by a junkie), drunk obnoxious neighbors, a brand new baby and ZERO money. The recollections of those early, lonely, trying days, are the most precious, the most beautiful, the most cemented into my memory.

We were forced to grow up when we had him. He made us responsible, and hard working. He made us a family.

Today we are saying goodbye to childhood, and hello to the future man God is making out of our son. Childish things have ended, and adulthood is now our focus.

Long gone is the tiny boy who tracked muddy red boots across my floors; who hid the wooden spanking spoon inside his red ride-on fire engine; who peed on the floor each morning after taking off his diaper; who loved Elmo and called all flying insects "Bee-Bugs." Gone is the little boy who loved rain, umbrellas and watching worms drown in puddles.

Gone is the kid who spent his time daydreaming, coloring, building forts and playing "Army Man" in the back yard.

It's been a long 13 years, and I've always seen this coming, slowly, far off in the distance. I stood back and saw a bright sunrise coming up over the horizon, blurring the lines of time, blinding me to that which was in motion and couldn't be stopped, no matter how hard I tried.  His growing up shouldn't take me by surprise...but it does.
My first child, my baby, has grown into a very special young man.

A young man who regularly asks "Mom, can I do anything to help you?"

Who happily unloads the groceries after I get back from a shopping trip.

A young man who takes his little brothers outside to play and teaches them baseball and soccer.

A young man who loves to laugh.

And who is taller than me, and is nearly as tall as his dad!

Who cleans the chicken coup without being asked.

A young man who writes comics, tells jokes and plays the clarinet like a breeze.

Who is our resident dishwasher extraordinaire.

A young man who loves to compose piano music and plays "Moonlight Sonata" by ear.

A young man who studies hard in his schoolwork and has scored several grade levels above average.

Who loves rollerblading, bike riding and sports.

A young man who cares for his brothers and sisters and asks for more!

A young man who is willing to help out anybody.

A young man who is kind and empathetic to others.

Who deeply loves Jesus.

And who has a heart for the persecuted church.

All these things I haven't deserved and never would have dreamed of asking for. Yet God gave them to me in my precious son. I'm an unworthy parent of the most glorious gift.

Today I will sit and drink coffee.

And have a good cry.

Not out of sadness, but out of humility. How can I, so undeserving, so imperfect as a parent, be trusted with such a precious gift?

I will cry out of longing, for days that have passed long ago, and out of hope for a lifetime of future years together.

And for turning over to God this young man whom He has seen fit to bless us with for the last 13 years.

My firstborn son, so treasured, so deeply loved.

Dear Micah,
Happy Birthday.






































Saturday, August 23, 2014

In Which Our Family Goes To The Airfield

You may remember this post: In Which Our Family Goes To The Race Track and in the same spirit of red-necky fun, I'm willing to share our most recent experience with you.

So here's how it went down: 

It was Nana's idea. "Let's sit at the airfield and watch all the airplanes."



We were totally alone as we laid out our bedraggled kept-in-the-trunk-blankets and sat down to observe...uh...whatever we thought was going to happen. Which ended up being a big fat bunch of nothing.

Oh, there were plenty of large jet planes to look at. They just happened to be parked and completely stationary. A grand total of two small planes landed and took off. Aaaand if I'm honest, I'm pretty sure it was the same plane TWICE. Nevertheless, the kids waved and yelled and jumped around and clapped their sticky hands, and hollered out their love to the sky. 

So here's where it gets funny. 

Because we are a huge (ahem, and LOUD) group, and because our dear children insist on creating chaotic amounts of fun wherever we go, other people driving by thought something spectacular was happening at the airport. 


And so they pulled over. 

And got out of their cars. 

And walked up the hill and stood eagerly with tripod cameras ready to snap up pictures of something FABULOUS.

Mike mumbled "Oh good, we aren't the only idiots out here." 


I have to point out that he said this while draped in a blue Aztec patterned towel, which several adults and older children were wearing across their shoulders like shawls because nobody thought to bring coats or jackets. That's how we roll. We make DO when our spontaneity overrules our common sense.

Several car-loads of expectant onlookers came. 

While our children paraded around laughing and pointing at imaginary flying machines, hopeful observers parked and walked up the hill toward us to watch all the airplanes. "Do you see the emperor's new clothes?!" they asked one another.

Eventually, someone yelled "The emperor has no clothes!" and people clued in that there were NO airplanes either landing or taking off, and with disappointed looks, they sauntered back to their cars with empty cameras and sad hearts. 

As for us, we just kept sitting, (because that's what you DO when you're old and tired) watching our kids roll down the grassy hills until they smacked face-first into the chain-link fences, and running and jumping and laughing in the fresh air. We stayed until we could safely say all children were exhausted. Then we loaded up the party bus and headed home. 

We brought home all the towels-turned-coats, some memories, and several gnarly grass stains. (Thank God for Resolve Stain Remover.)


I'm sure we will find ourselves back at the airfield again one day soon.

Oh, and If you ever want to join us, feel free. Just don't show us up by coming with actual coats. Because if you're ever in the mood to join our red-nex-ican ho-down, you'd better arrive as ill-prepared as the rest of us.

I'll throw several more hideous towels into the back of the van, just for you to wear on such an occasion.





Our New Baby Girl!

*All photos are owned by Arrows and Olives blog and may not be copied or printed without permission.



God has blessed us with another sweet daughter, baby Moriah Eden born August 5th.



 Mount Moriah was the mountain where God commanded Abraham to take his son Isaac to to be sacrificed. It was a place where there was fear, great sacrifice and an ultimate trust in God and His timing and plan. So it was with this pregnancy as well. 

I was NOT ready for another baby and was quite fearful when I discovered I was expecting so soon after having our youngest baby, Milo. My body was still recovering from that pregnancy and birth and from PPD  I was suffering with. To find out I was expecting was quite a shock. It seemed completely impossible. And yet, she was there; a small miracle growing, a part of God's ultimate purpose for our family.  

Eden was a place of pleasure and delight, and it's exactly how the Lord moved through this pregnancy. He literally moved me from a place of fear and sacrifice to a place of pleasure and delight.

In Hebrew, Moriah means "God is my teacher," and man oh man, did He teach me a few things throughout this pregnancy. And I am so grateful for the lessons.


Our baby was born after a loooong induction process because she was overdue and my body did not show any signs at all of going into labor on its own. Finally after hours and hours of pitocin, she arrived at 10:16 pm and weighed 7lbs 11oz and was 19.5 inches long. She does not have any health issues (that we are yet aware of) resulting from her single-umbilical-artery. We are praising the Lord for this! 


When we got her home, all her siblings were very excited to greet her! Well, everyone except Milo. He tried to slap her and poke her eyeballs out, so we did NOT let him get anywhere close to her. I think he was jealous that he was no longer the baby! 

Here are some photos of the first few days and meeting her siblings:
Morning after her birth


Meeting Micah


Meeting Mikayla

Makenna's turn!



Mack loves his new sister

Mathias is a happy big brother

Thumbs up!



Cheeks!
first bath
hair bow
Hello world!
Thanks be to God, for His blessing of children and for one more "olive tree" that He is allowing us to plant.


Thank you all for sharing in this joy with us!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Jumping" & Other Crazy Camera Shots






*All photos are owned by Arrows and Olives blog and may not be copied or printed without permission.




After my brother was over this week taking more photos of my kids, I'm more convinced than ever that I may need to save up and invest in a real camera. 


And this is why:







Hey, it's not nice to step on the baby. Poor Milo.







































Sorry, iPhone camera. You may soon be replaced.
You just don't cut the mustard.








Sunday, July 13, 2014

SIMPLY EFFICIENT Part 1: Three FAVORITE things just added to my home




*All photos are owned by Arrows and Olives blog and may not be copied or printed without permission.


I've decided to write a mini series on things we are organizing, improving and upgrading around the house. No, we aren't spending tons of money doing this. (Although this post does list the most expensive change we've made lately.) In general, these are small things that I've found to make a huge difference in my daily-happenings; things that have freed up time and energy, and have kept me feeling calmer and less overwhelmed. These are small changes we are making in order to be more efficient and live more simply.

One thing I cannot stand, is spending oodles of time searching for things I can't find because of disorganization, and believe me, with nearly 9 people here, there can be a ton of disorganization. I also hate wasting time trying to do something that would take far less time if I had the proper equipment, or better organization. (More on that in the next post!) My goal is to de-clutter and donate anything that we don't absolutely need, and re-evaluate items we have to see if they fit into our new "efficiency" goals.

Which brings me to  Simply Efficient favorite item number 1: 





My Kurig.


I cannot wait until I'm able to drink coffee again. Right now it gives me acid reflux like black death in a mug, so I'm avoiding it like the plague. But MAN how I miss it.

Every year, Mike gets a "prize" catalog from one of the companies he does business with that allows him to choose a prize based on a points system. Being the good and devoted husband he is, he brings it home to me to let me choose a prize I would like to have (for free!) and this year I picked a Mr. Coffee Kurig. I wanted one for quite a while and was so happy to see it in the catalog.

So how do I like it? O' let me count the ways:

I love my kurig. I only want a single cup of coffee a day (when I'm drinking coffee) and so brewing an entire pot was always such a huge waste. Plus clean-up is a breeze with this thing! All I have to do is remove the used k-cup and wash the mug. That's what I truly love; how simple and efficient this thing is. 

I only drink decaf. Supposedly I have one of those bodies that is super sensitive to caffeine. I've found these DELICIOUS decaf K cups on AmazonThese are the best I've tasted, and I've tasted quite a few.

Guests come over to our house quite often. Guests who like regular coffee. (Here's another link to the very best k cups according to the consensus of my friends, family, and a gazillion reviewers on Amazon) With my Kurig, guests can make their own regular cuppa joe, and 45 seconds later I can make a cup of unleaded. (Or tea! Or cocoa! Or apple cider, and beyond!) I'm loving this coffee technology and the simplicity of this system.

On to the next thing:

I get really stressed out when people (ahem, you know who you are) move stuff around to places where I have not put it. Definitely this is more stressful to me while pregnant, but it's a huge time waster when I'm searching and searching for something and just cannot locate it.

The other day, I practically tore my hair out searching for dill weed when I was trying to make cold pasta salad for dinner. I know I had some, I know where I kept it,  and I know some of my kitchen minions (check them out with this link) moved it, or threw it out. Yes, it's dumb, but it stressed me out. I searched and searched through all my pantry spaces, and my disorganized cupboards but to no avail. Wouldn't it be nice if spices lived in a SET location?

Simply Efficient favorite item number 2:
                                                                                  





Spice magnets.


These clever metal gems have made life simple. Not to mention how cleaned out my cupboards are now. I love being able to see my spices at a glance and know that everyone in the kitchen is going to put them back EXACTLY where they belong. Right guys? (See me nodding my head and smiling?)

We saw these magnets in several kitchen stores, but ended up finding them on sale at Costco for $15.99 a dozen. They also came with a metallic frame you can stand-up or hang on a wall. You can also stick these to your refrigerator, or mount a piece of metal inside the door of your cupboard.

See how you can use them to shake out a little bit?  



Or a bit more? 



Or if you need a tbsp of something you can easily take the lid off.

I love these things and I'm taking deep sighs of relief knowing I won't end up breathing into a paper sack after trying to locate my spices.



And last but not least, this leads me to our biggest and most drastic change, (and my favorite!!!)

Our 4 littles come into the house literally covered head to toe in dusty dirt. We have a huge dirt pile that used to have vegetation on it, but the kids have killed anything that hoped to live there, and turned it into a Tonka Dump-truck Superhighway. And with the dry weather and heat we've had, well, let's just say... it's a mess. Several times a day they have to get washed, changed and cleaned up before naps, bedtime, etc. That means I'm bathing 4 kids twice a day. That equals EIGHT. BATHS. A. DAY. (And I'm going to be bathing kids even more frequently after this baby comes!) Every time I turn around, I'm bathing a cute little dirt-monger, or someone with an exploded diaper or a potty accident.

This was getting overwhelming because I can barely bend over a bath tub, and the only bathtub we have is upstairs. I began attempting to bathe them in our tiny bathroom sink on our main floor. That was a bit of a joke, but at least I could stand up while scrubbing them down. And they could sit on the edge of the counter with their feet in the sink while I scrubbed them head to toe with a wash cloth.

The inefficiency of this process this led to my AHA! moment!

Simply Efficient favorite item number 3:


                                                                                                          


 A utility/laundry sink in the main floor bathroom!


Isn't she a beaut? This is BY FAR my most favorite improvement in my home. I had to wait and set a bit of money aside so I could make this switch, and Mike suggested we get a faucet with a pull-out hose for rinsing kids, clothes, shoes, anything scuzzy, etc. This change was our most expensive one in this series, but so worth it.

A deep utility/laundry sink makes the perfect bathtub for small kids. It uses less water, is faster and far more efficient when giving multiple baths a day. (No bending over!) It's also easier to bathe small babies and you don't have to own several of those large plastic baby-bathing-apparatuses. Decluttering!

Our bathroom downstairs (on our main floor) is fairly tiny. It stays very warm in the winter and is located next to our washer and dryer, so it really made sense to put a utility sink in this location. We simply took out the old sink, replaced the counter top and reused the cabinet that was already there. I'm loving it, and I think we will get much use out of it, especially when babies have blow-outs and need a quick wash and change.

I keep all the clothes and pajamas for numbers 4,5,6, (&7!) right next to this bathroom, and that makes dressing and changing them even more simple.

And who doesn't love simple?

No matter where I look in my home, I find myself searching for simplicity; for organized spaces that function well, for easy solutions, and for ways to make life more streamlined and efficient. I've still got a long way to go, but making some small changes helps elevate my moods, frees up my time and lets the household function better.


Do you have any tips on simplifying life?



Tune in for Simply Efficient Part 2: Three favorite things just added to my kitchen